Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘strength’


Thursday, September 3, 2020

Planets_wallpapers_117[1]

Proverbs 8

Wisdom and Creation

We have ample opportunity to listen to wise words; yet we seem to go our own way – thinking that we know better. Wisdom has been with us since creation; yet we ignore her when we need her most.

Wisdom has much to offer: Straight words, prudence, knowledge and discretion, instruction that is more valuable than gold, silver, or jewels. Wisdom loves those who seek her. Wisdom is strength, righteousness and justice. Wisdom calls out to those who have ears to hear . . .

And now my children, listen to me: happy are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Happy is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord; but those who miss me injure themselves; and all who hate me love death. 

In today’s Gospel (John 6:30-35) the people ask Jesus to give them a sign so that they may believe. I am astounded . . . and yet, do I not do they same? The people in today’s reading walk with Jesus, they shake the same dust from their clothes that also powders Jesus’ feet and face, they experience miracles at Jesus’ hands . . . and yet they ask for a sign that they might believe.

Wisdom offers her ample generosity . . . yet we ask for more. Or worse still, we decide that we know better.

Wisdom has been with God since the creation. She has dwelt with God from the beginning and she will be with God through the infinity of God’s time and through the enormity of God’s space. Why do we ask for a sign . . . when the sign lives within us? Why do we ask for wisdom . . . when wisdom has dwelt with us from our inception?


Adapted from a reflection written on May 10, 2011.

Image from: http://wakpaper.com/id164616/earth-from-space-wallpaper-1600×1200-pixel.html 

Read Full Post »


Friday, May 22, 2020hamikdash21[1]Haggai 2:15-19

Promise of Immediate Blessings

This is good news!  Commentary tells us that we should read this citation along with Chapter 1: The Exhortation to Rebuild the Temple. After the destruction and capture and exile by the Babylonians, the Jewish people were finally allowed to return in groups to Judah, but they had a good deal of trouble in rebuilding their temple and themselves. We can read about this in Ezra and Nehemiah.

The Samaritans in the northern part of the former Jewish territory who had intermingled with non-Jews have become the enemies of Jews returning to their home in the southern region of Judah.  These Samaritans now block the way home for the returning exiles.  In a time of return from deportation when we might imagine a new joy rising from the hearts of the Israelites, it is instead corruption and idol worship that they experience.  In a time when physical and emotional fatigue from the return journey sap the strength of God’s people, they are called to dig deep into their inner selves to find the energy to rebuild.  Yet despite the energy they expend in their struggle to return to their Jerusalem home, the faithful find the wherewithal to rebuild.  They rely on their custom of maintaining contact with Yahweh through exile. They are an exhausted people who return from the north and yet here the prophet Haggai entreats the people to rebuild what was lost and he promises that there will be immediate joy.  We might feel tired just thinking of the turmoil, disappointment and suffering they experience.  We also might feel their hope, animation and sense of fulfillment.

This is a story that inspires.

Some of this prophecy (in particular the portion of chapter 2 just before today’s reading) takes the form of a “torah” or instruction given by a priest and so it carries particular significance. We are reminded that we are nothing if not first thought and then created by God. We are exhorted to re-build the old temple and to rebuild ourselves.  We are reminded that God will fill us with the persistence and fortitude to answer this call.  We are told that there is one to come who will shepherd his sheep in their return to an old home in a new spirit.

As we near the end of this Eastertide in the midst of pandemic, we have journeyed for two months of celebration in the most unusual of ways. We experience both the death of a hope and the birth of a new way of living, and throughout these weeks, we have always had the intimate presence of the resurrected Christ who arrives as fulfillment of all the prophets have predicted.  Jesus is the new temple, and we are the building blocks.  He is the promise, and we are the beneficiaries.  He is the blessing, and we are the blessed.  As we return from our own personal exiles, may we live up to this promise.  And so we pray . . .

Dear and gracious Lord, you have called us back from our time of exile.  You have offered us transformation and new life.  You have filled us with new energy and new strength.  May we live up to the potential we embody.  May we learn to be true, living stones in your temple.  And may we experience the joy of your immediate blessing.  Amen. 


Adapted from a Noontime first written on May 17, 2007.

Image from http://www.israelvideonetwork.com/rebuilding-the-temple-in-jerusalem

Read Full Post »


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Acts 13:41-52: Results

Contrary to what we may think, the practice of meekness does not create a world of submission and pain.  Faithful meekness trains us to handle obstacles and to persist through adversity.  True meekness teaches us to listen, to witness, and to respond as God directs.  Honest meekness turns the other cheek in an invitation to join Christ’s mystical body.  Authentic meekness steps forward into the world despite any threat to reputation, stamina or strength.

Today’s Noontime is a snippet of the story of life in the early Church. Footnotes will tell us that Antioch was an important missionary center after the focus shifted away from Jerusalem and we see how jealousy begins to simmer when Paul and Barnabas attract more followers to The Way.  The result of their meekness in Christ is conflict . . . and at first glance this may seem to be a failure.

There are three important elements in this story for us to remember.

First, we see how thirsty people are to hear The Word.  Verse 44 tells us that nearly the entire city turns out to hear Paul and Barnabas speak.  The result of Christ’s meekness is celebrity.

Second, when the missionaries are eventually forced out of the city by the jealous and powerful, Christ’s Word and Christ’s Way are easily dispersed throughout the Roman Empire, into the West and Europe.  The result of Christ’s meekness is endurance.

Third, when looking at verses 51 and 52 we find that the disciples make a statement through their witnessing rather than through an act of aggression.  The result of Christ’s meekness is quiet power.

A grain of wheat falls to the ground and bursts open so that the stalk may grow in fertile soil.  We see the grain of wheat being trod on here, and crushed into fertile ground.  Conflict and strife bear fruit through Christ and we see that the result of Christ’s meekness is not failure.  It is an abundant harvest.

And so we pray.

Good and Gracious God,

Teach us to speak of you in such a way that we call others to follow you.

Fill us with your Spirit in such a way that we find patience for the journey.

Remind us of our redemption by your Son in such a way that we remember to thank you.

Call us to our higher selves in such a way that we find power in you.

Stay with us in such a way that we delight in the practice of meekness.

Bless us in such a way that our meekness brings results for you.

We ask this in Jesus’ name. 

Amen.

Tomorrow, rejecting idols . . . the importance of meekness . . .


Image from: https://www.cutlermiles.com/saints-paul-and-barnabas-in-lystra-jacob-jordaens/ 

A re-post from April 21, 2020.

Read Full Post »


Psalm 28: http://www.ehow.com/info_8087024_deserts-drive-through.htmlThe Rock

Monday, December 30, 2019

In today’s Gospel John the Baptist tells us that he went out to the desert and there he encountered God; we are reminded that we must go apart, from time to time, as Jesus did to recoup, to re-focus, to re-listen.  Even the one who heals all wounds and mends all brokenness goes off to pray for a little while.

Today’s Noontime focuses us on the origin of our strength.

To you, My Lord, I call; my Rock, do not be deaf to me.  It is in the heat of desert days that we find an unyielding foundation on which to put our feet.  Our foundation is the Rock, the Lord.

The Lord is my strength and my shield, in whom my heart trusted and found help.  It is in the chill of the desert nights that we discover we need constant protection from the buffets of the world. We find this protection in the Rock, the Lord.

If you fail to answer me, I will join those who go down to the pit.  It is in the desert extremes that we realize we are nothing, our puny resources are for naught without the Rock, the Lord.

So my heart rejoices; with my song I praise my God.  It is in the harsh, desert reality, with all resources stripped away, that we come to understand the value of our relationship with the Rock, the Lord.

Lord, you are the strength of your people, the saving refuge of your anointed king.  It is in the beauty of the desert simplicity that we come to believe that the Rock, our Lord, loves us more than we have imagined.

Rather than fear loss we must be open to its message, for although God is our constant companion we do not feel God’s true presence because we have filled our days with our own activity.

Rather than lament a world that is woefully off course, we might instead turn to the Rock, the Lord, for sustenance and hope.

Rather than funnel our energy into petty arguments and the useless struggle over power we do not even possess, we might rely instead on the Rock, the Lord, for clarity of vision and purity of intent.

Rather than hide our envy and resentment over the good fortune of others, we might look to the Rock, the Lord, for a steadfast spirit and a constant heart.

Picture1Prepare the way of the Lord, The Baptist calls out the words of the prophet Isaiah.  Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill made low.  When we journey into the desert to better hear the Lord, our way will be smoothed out for us by the Lord.  No more will we skitter down steep slopes as we travel. No more will we exhaust ourselves as we climb over the huge problems that appear before us.  The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth.  No more will we worry which way to turn and which way to go.  And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.  The Lord, our Rock, assures us of our rescue.

As we reflect and pray in this Christmastide, let us return with The Baptist to the desert, let us listen again to the familiar words of Isaiah, and let us build our permanent home on the only Rock that both rescues and sustains.  Let us wait on the Lord.

 


Adapted from a reflection first posted on December 9, 2012.

Image from: http://www.ehow.com/info_8087024_deserts-drive-through.html

Read Full Post »


Proverbs 22 to 24: Infinity is Us

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Escher: Approaches to Infinity

Once I begin to read these verses, I cannot stop.  They ring as true today as when they were written so long ago.  They are proof that human nature, like water, swirls to the lowest level if left unchecked; but if effort is spent, water can be managed into refreshing spray, into nurturing irrigation channels.  Water can both destroy and mend.  So too, can humans.

The shrewd man perceives evil and hides, while simpletons continue on and suffer the penalty . . . Be not friendly with a hot-headed man, nor the companion of a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways, and get yourself into a snare . . . Look not on the wine when it is read, when it sparkles in the glass.  It goes down smoothly, but in the end it bites like a serpent, or like a poisonous adder.  Your eyes behold strange sites, and your heart utters disordered thoughts . . .

Some things never change.

If you remain indifferent in time of adversity, your strength will depart from you . . . Lie not in wait  against the home of a just man, ravage not his dwelling place; for the just man falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble to ruin . . . Be not provoked with evildoers, nor envious of the wicked; for the evil man has no future, the lamp of the wicked will be put out. 

Some people never change.

He who plots evil – men call him an intriguer.  Beyond intrigue and folly and sin, it is arrogance that men find abominable.

Proverbs are a fountain of strength because we can find sayings that suit all people and occasions.  As I read, the images of many people flood my mind.  Images of myself also come to me – both from good times and from bad.

These are universal sentiments for all people for all times.  On a hot summer evening we do well to pause . . . read . . . listen, watch and pray.


Written on June 12, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://f06.middlebury.edu/FYSE1176A/Escher.htm

Read Full Post »


1 Samuel 24Escape

Monday, November 19, 2018

Rembrandt: Saul and David

Several weeks ago, we reflected on celebrating escape from something or someone who would have brought us great ruin or harm.  Yesterday’s Gospel gave us the opportunity to examine how Jesus is able to escape the traps laid for him by those who hated him.  Today we take a look at a small portion of the story of David, the young man who is designated as King of Israel by Samuel but who waits his turn as leader of God’s chosen people by resisting the temptation to fight against Saul.  David does not deny that he has been chosen King, nor does he murder Saul in order to take what is his; rather, he abides in God’s will and God’s time . . . and he takes the routes of escape that God offers while he actively waits on the fulfillment of God’s plan.

Today we read the story of how God saved his imperfect yet faithful servant and we are no less than David.

Today we read the story of how David relied on his God’s constancy . . . and he did not allow fear to turn him toward revenge or cowardice.

In yesterday’s Gospel (Matthew 22:15-21) we read the story of how Jesus confronted prejudice and hatred and we do well to follow his example.

In yesterday’s Gospel we were given a road map for how to escape manipulation and scheming.  We must rely on God always, remain faithful to the covenant God shares with us, and always act in love and for love of God.  In this way we will always know escape from anything danger or evil that hopes to overtake us.

And so we pray . . .

When the call to do God’s work pulls us into alien and dangerous territory, we must rely on God’s wisdom and not our own.

When the hand of God heals us and then sends us out to do God’s work, we must rely on God’s fidelity and nurture our own.

When the voice of God urges us to work in fields are that unfamiliar to us and that sap our energy, we must rely on God’s strength and conserve our own.

When the heart of God sends us to work with those who would do us harm, we must rely on God’s love and hope for redemption.   Amen.


A re-post from October 17, 2011. 

Images from: http://www.aaroneberline.com/blog/tag/david/ and http://www.artbible.info/art/large/378.html

 

Read Full Post »


John 15:15: Fools and Friends

Friday, June 15, 2018

Jesus reminds us that he calls us his friends. To think we are otherwise is foolish.

I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I heard from my Father.

As we consider what it means to be a friend of Christ, we remember this Favorite written on November 1, 2009. Sirach 22

There are many verses in this chapter that to make us smile and at times laugh aloud. Jesus ben Sirach knows human nature well; and he understands the importance of true friendship in which even the action of drawing a sword against a friend can be undone.  Yet, in these verses there are gentle warnings: the rest of us stand aloof from those who harm friends, treachery can drive away any friend, prosperity can get in the way of friendship, insults cause great harm in close relationships.

Equally significant are the verses pertaining to fools and those addicted to laziness.  Who among us has not been a fool at one time or another, and who among us has not been damaged by a fool?  Sirach advises well when he writes: teaching a fool is like gluing a broken pot, or disturbing a man in his sleep . . . speak seldom with the stupid man, be not the companion of a brute . . . neither can a timid resolve based on foolish plans withstand fear of any kind.

We find many examples of foolishness, laziness, brutishness; and we see the value of tending to friendships.  In his letters to the Corinthians, Paul plays with the ideas of foolishness and weakness in humans and in God.  We become weak and foolish as humans in order to become strong and wise with and in Christ.   We give over our worldly wisdom and strength in order that we might submit ourselves freely to God’s will and power.  This is the secret of inversion in Christianity; and it is a truth we sometimes find difficult.  In 1 Corinthians 3:18-23 we read:  Do not deceive yourselves.  If anyone of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a fool so that he may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.  As it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness” and again, “the Lord knows that their thoughts are futile”.  So then, no more boasting about men . . . all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God. 

Today we have something to ponder as we wind down into the evening, into prayer and into sleep.  What or who do we see as foolish?  What or who do we see as wise?  What or who do we see as strong?  What or who do we see as weak?  Do sincere friends abound?  Who and what do we suffer and why?

Sirach presents a stark contrast in this chapter as do our own lives.  Everywhere we look we see the lights and darks that present an ever-shifting world; but the one true place we will always find a steady foundation is the masonry bonded with wooden beams . . . not loosened by an earthquake . . .This foundation is Christ.

A resolve that is backed with prudent understanding is like the polished surface of a smooth wall.  This resolve is funded by Christ.

Small stones lying on an open height will not remain when the wind blows . . . so this is why we must stand on the rock of Christ.  All else is weak.

Neither can a resolve based on foolish plans withstand fear of any kind . . . and this is why we must place our friendship in Christ.  All else is foolish.

We consider our friendship with Christ as we pray Psalm 122, and repeat the antiphon, For the sake of my family and friends, I say it again: live in peace.

Tomorrow, becoming salt. 


For more reflections on friendship, enter the word friend into the blog search bar and explore.

For more on the friendship pyramid and the stages of friendship, click on the image from: https://humans.media/stages-of-friendship

Read Full Post »


Wisdom 3: Duality in Fire

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

As we continue to spend time reflecting on our duality, we revisit the theme of trial and endurance; we ask and we pray . . . from whence comes the strength, courage, and clarity we need to discern Jesus’ Way through the fires of life?

Adapted from a Favorite written on May 29, 2010.

Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.

Worthiness is a quality we may undervalue in our culture that relies heavily on nurturing independence with high doses of self-esteem.  As with all good things, too much of it becomes a bad thing, as my Dad used to say.  Self-knowledge and self-esteem are not that far from narcissism; and self-flagellation is not a healthy tool for us to use when we step back to look at ourselves.  Sadism and masochism are the flip side of a willingness to suffer for the sake of another.  And if we are sisters and brother in Christ, we look to God for direction rather than to our own egos.

The human existence is a constant tightrope-walking along the spectrum of desirable and undesirable qualities.

From our study of James this year: Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  (James 1:2-3)

The perfection God asks of us is not that we live a life without flaw, but that we persevere in doing God’s will, and in finding the good in the trials we undergo for the conversion and redemption of others.  The joy we know from participating in God’s economy is far greater and longer lasting than the fleeting happiness we experience resulting from contentment we feel at the end of a good day.  Suffering for show, or suffering for the sake of suffering is the flip side of the salvific suffering which Christ undergoes for the redemption of others.  And if we are sisters and brother in Christ, we are worthy through self-sacrifice of our own agendas for God’s better plan.

The human existence is a joyful one when we persevere through trials in faith, live through hope and bind with others in love.

Lives lived in Christ shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble, and the alternative is to live as the wicked who receive their punishment to match their thoughts, since they neglected justice and forsook the Lord. 

This is the wisdom offered to us today so that we might examine our motivations. In this way we discern the origin of our actions to discover if they are worthy of God’s love for us. Do we sacrifice for self? Or do we sacrifice for God?

Remembering that God does not expect perfection in all we do, we lift up our lives as sparks that fly in the dark night. Remembering that God asks us to be perfect in our perseverance through trials in love, we raise up our hearts like sparks that fly through the stubble of the winnowed field. Remembering that God asks us to remain constant in our search for truth, we rise with the flame of God’s love in us.

In the duality of fire that destroys when it goes beyond reasonable limits yet sustains when it brings light and nourishment to cold darkness, we rest in the wisdom of God.


To reflect more on the duality of fire, enter the word Sparks in the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: http://www.nhfaithfusion.com/2014/12/cultivating-warm-heart-creates-meaningful-life/ 

Read Full Post »


St. Gertrude the Great 1256-1302

1 Maccabees 16: Seek Kindness

Monday, November 27, 2017

Adapted from a reflection written on November 15, 2009. In memoria for my mother who always preached Killing with Kindness

The name Maccabees means the hammer and as we read through these books in scripture we experience a great deal of violence in the name of God.  These books are stories about “the attempted suppression of Judaism in Palestine in the second century B.C.  . . . [The author’s] purpose in writing is to record the salvation of Israel which God worked through the family of Matthias . . . Implicitly the writer compares their virtues and their exploits with those of the ancient heroes, the Judges, Samuel, and David”.  (Senior 550)  Portions of this book may be used when dedicating an altar . . . or when praying for persecuted Christians.  The lesson here is that living the life of an apostle of Christ will inevitably include bloodshed – whether it be spiritual, mental or physical.  Each time I pray to my Mother for a special intercession, I find myself in this story.  She, the gentlest of shepherds, realized real battles in her life.  Her slogan was: Kill them with kindness. 

St. Gertrude of Nivelles (626-659)

There is no avoiding the central message of Jesus’ life: When in doubt, exercise kindness and compassion . . . and listen for the word of God to tell us which way to turn, when to pause, when to proceed.  Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St. Gertrude.  My mother and my sister – both deceased – are named for this saint.  Both of these women had a plodding, patient persistence when confronted with evil, and they were formidable and unmoved when it came to right and wrong.  The Morning Prayer for tomorrow begins with a verse from Isaiah (30:15): By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies.  I reflect on the betrayal and carnage we witness when we read Maccabees.  The deception of the son of Abubus who gives the faithful a deceitful welcome shakes me to the core.  There is nothing more wicked than luring in the innocent to later spring up, weapons in hand, to rush upon the loyal servant of God – thus repaying good with evil.

What do we do when we are witness to this?  We are utterly astounded as is John in today’s reading.  We go to God who tells us to shake the dust of the unfaithful from our feet and move on.  And we do as my mother always recommended: Kill them with kindness.

Gertrude the Great was a German Benedictine mystic with a special dedication to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A number of her writings are still in publication today. Gertrude of Nivelles founded an abbey with her mother, Itta, in present day Belgium. She is the patron saint of gardens and cats. 

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.550. Print.   

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 16.11 (2009). Print.  

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: